Tales of a Summer Trip - 2015 MW Volleyball All-Stars

2015 Global Challenge Europe Tournament Central
2015 Global Challenge Europe Opening Ceremony - Sunday, July 12 - 1 p.m. MT / Noon PT
2015 Global Challenge Europe - Court 1
2015 Global Challenge Europe - Court 2

Congratulations to the #MWVBAllStar15 team! Team took third place in the 11th Annual Global Challenge - Europe and New Mexico's Julia Warren was named to the all-tournament team.

Monday, July 20
Official MW bloggers: Julia Warren, Jr., OH & Devanne Sours, Jr., OPP/OH, New Mexico

Our amazing trip wrapped up after winning the bronze medal at the Global Challenge in Pula, Croatia against another team from America. We got to go into town and shop and indulge ourselves with gelato, then we made our way back to the gym to watch the final match. The USA Junior National Team faced the Italian Junior National Team and boy was it an exciting game! After a 5-set battle, the US junior national team ended up taking the match, and then closing ceremonies began. We got announced and all got to individually get our medals!

After this, everyone finally got to take a deep breath and relax. The following morning, we got on a bus and headed to Venice, Italy. We got checked into our hotel and then jumped back on a bus and headed to our drop off point in town. We got to spend 4-5 hours exploring, shopping, and spending our last day together as a team. Venice was so amazing and all of the architecture was absolutely breathtaking!

Everyone then parted ways the next day and we said our goodbyes, because this would be the last time we would see our teammates until we face them on the other side of the net in a conference match. This was a fantastic experience and I wouldn't have wanted to experience it with anybody else!

P.S. Congrats to Julia for earning all-tournament honors!

Maddy O'Donnell, Jr., OPP/MB, Boise State (BroncoSports.com)
We took third place in the Global Challenge. On the last day of the playoffs Thursday (July 16), we played the USA Junior National Team. We played them tough but lost in three sets. BIP Midwest, another USA team, had the same record as us at that point so we played a best out of three match with them for third and fourth place. We beat them in two sets and took the Bronze medal! We played really hard all four days of the tournament and I'm very proud of where we finished in playoffs.

The final was at 7p.m. and ended with the USA Junior National Team beating Italy in five sets. It was a really fun game to watch. Following the championship game were closing ceremonies. Every team that participated was announced and the top three of each age group was recognized and given their medals.

Early Friday (July 17) morning we left for Italy. The drive was about four hours. Once we got there we checked into the hotel and quickly freshened up for the day. We spent the afternoon and evening in Venice. We took a water taxi into San Marco, where we toured the square and did some shopping and sightseeing. We had dinner at a fun Italian restaurant and got Gelato on our way back to the buses. Venice was beautiful and a great end to the trip!

Kaitlyn Oliver and I had a blast on this trip. The team was awesome and both coaches, Jeff and Marc, made it really fun. I enjoyed competing against the best junior national teams in the world and all the fun activities we did in our free time. This is an experience that I'll remember forever! I am so grateful for the opportunity to represent Boise State Volleyball as well as the Mountain West.

Adrianna Culbert, Sr., OPP/OH, Colorado State (CSURams.com)
These past 11 days have been filled with so many new experiences, and they all have been wonderful. In the beginning it was kind of hard to jell with everyone on the court, just because we've all never played with each other. By the last day of play we were playing really well together. I had the chance to get to know all of the girls from different schools in our conference, and that was a really great experience for me because we all always knew each other as competitors but getting to know each other as friends was really cool!

The sightseeing throughout our trip was unbelievable. We went from being in the rain to the mountains to being right next to the sea. This was definitely an amazing first trip to Europe for both Cassidy Denny and me. On our last day, we went to Italy and toured Venice, which was amazing!! It was probably my favorite place we went. The building looked like they came straight out of the water and everything was so beautiful. And the gelato was AMAZING – definitely the best ice cream is in Europe.

Even though I'm sad to say the trip went by so fast, Cass and I are both very happy to be back and ready to start playing. Getting a little taste of volleyball again makes me so eager for the season to start!!

Tyanna Roy, Sr., OH, San José State (SJSUSpartans.com)
So there it is! 10 Days in Europe, a Bronze medal, and a great group of girls who I can now call my teammates and friends.

We have one last full day in Venice together to create our last memories as an official team before its time to say goodbye until we play each other in Mountain West games.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to play volleyball in such beautiful countries and against other great teams with such an amazing group of players and coaches. Special thanks to everyone who helped me get here. This is a once in a lifetime experience where I learned so much about the game to help my level of play. Thanks for a trip that I will never forget!

Rachel Gale, So., OH, Utah State (UtahStateAggies.com)
Well the adventure is over. We ended up taking third in the tournament. We lost to the U.S. Jr. National team in the semi finals and played the mid west all star team for third and fourth place. We were so happy with the way we played and third was a pretty nice place to end up!! We finished our trip in Italy. We spent an entire day exploring Venice which was awesome! This trip has been such an incredible experience and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I had to come!

Thursday, July 17
Tyanna Roy, Sr., OH, San José State (SJSUSpartans.com)
Semifinal match against the U.S. Junior National Team - This team has some very talented young girls on the team, and we were so excited to play them. Although they are the junior national team, we think there are a few things we can use against them to pick them apart and give us a win...

After a hard fought match, we lost. I wish we could have had more time together before this tournament to play and grow as a team. If we had the same amount of time together as the junior national team did, or even just one more week together, I believe we would have won hands down.

With the loss, we played the Midwest BIP team for third place. Although they had good players and were a bunch of All-Star college players like us, we handled our business and won. We didn't go all the way out to Europe not to place! ;)

Thursday, July 16
Tyanna Roy, Sr., OH, San José State (SJSUSpartans.com)
Today we beat Hungary and moved on to play a team from Croatia. We had watched Croatia play earlier and saw some things that we would need to stop them from doing for us to be successful. We ended the day on a good note by beating them and moving on to the semifinals. Great wins today and can't wait to continue the journey tomorrow!


Wednesday, July 15
Rachel Gale, So., OH, Utah State (UtahStateAggies.com)
Today we finished the first day of tournament play and we won all of our matches in three! We have been clicking really well on and off the court as a team and I'm so excited for our games tomorrow!

We play the U.S. Jr. National team first thing in the morning for the semifinals, if we win we will play in the finals tomorrow night.

It will be fun to compete with some of the best players in the world tomorrow!

Maddy O'Donnell, Jr., OPP/MB, Boise State (BroncoSports.com)
This morning we had breakfast at the hotel and then walked down the street to the gym. We played Hungary again and beat them in three.

We had lunch and relaxed back at the hotel until our game at 5 p.m. against a Slovenian team. We won in three again. This advances us to the semifinals.

We will compete against the USA Junior National Team tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. If we win, we will be in the finals at 7 p.m. It's such a cool opportunity to play our own junior national team and we are hoping to come together and beat them. Tune in and watch the game live streamed at 12:30 a.m. Mountain time!

Adrianna Culbert, Sr., OPP/OH, Colorado State (CSURams.com)
We’ve been in Croatia for three days, and since the tournament began we’ve done a lot of playing, sleeping and a little swimming in the ocean. We went 3-1 during pool play, and today was the first day of bracket play. We beat Hungary in a challenge match to continue on and play Slovenia later in the evening. We beat both teams in three sets, so tomorrow morning (1:30 a.m. MT Thursday), we get to play the U.S. Junior National Team in the semifinals. It will be awesome to play them, because they are some of the best college players in the U.S., so it’ll be a great game.

We are about a five-minute walk from the Adriatic Sea, which is amazing!! Croatia is such a beautiful country. We’ve gone into town, and almost every day make it to the sea for at least a little swim after we play. The only thing is that the gyms aren’t air conditioned, so it feels like it’s at least 100 degrees while we’re playing! We’re beyond spoiled in the U.S.!!

This trip has been so amazing. I’m having a blast getting to know and play with these girls! Wish us luck in the semis tomorrow :)

Tyanna Roy, Sr., OH, San José State (SJSUSpartans.com)
Today we arrived in Croatia, no practice, just opening ceremonies and quick shopping. Opening ceremonies were held in the middle of what seemed to be their downtown with beautiful architectural buildings. The amphitheater was not too far away. They called up all of the teams for pictures, and afterwards, we got to go shopping in all of the cool shops downtown.

Pool play began with us playing Israel's Junior National Team, a team from Hungary and a team from Italy. We won all three matches in pool play, only dropping one set to Israel's Junior National Team. Playing these teams is so incredibly fun and learning their different styles of play. Our team had to learn and adjust quickly because we are used to fast volleyball with quicker sets. Once we got a hang of it, our team was blocking teams a lot more, and it felt good to finally be competing the way that we should with these teams. Bracket play starts Thursday, and we play Hungary in the first match.


Tuesday, July 14
Official MW bloggers: Julia Warren, Jr., OH & Devanne Sours, Jr., OPP/OH, New Mexico

Hey everyone! The team is having so much fun and working hard. We are coming together as a team and really starting to mesh and have some fun!

We are now in Pula, Croatia, along with many other talented teams. We won our first two pool play games yesterday against Hungary and an Italian Club team. Today we bested Israel 2-1 and then went down to the Italian junior national team.

We have our first tournament game in the morning. We are getting swims in the ocean as recovery and capturing lots of great pictures and memories! Hopefully we get to go cliff jumping and get some shopping in sometime soon. We are loving Europe :)

Kaitlyn Oliver, So., MB, Boise State (BroncoSports.com)
Today we had breakfast at the hotel and then walked to the gym for our first match at 11:30 a.m. We played Israel and won 2-1 (who we lost to earlier in the trip), advancing our overall record to 3-0.

Afterwards, we stopped by the market and grabbed snacks, then came back to the hotel and relaxed during our downtime. Our next game was at 7 p.m. and we played Italy's junior national team (also for the second time). We lost 0-3 in close sets, but weren't able to pull off a win.

This was the end of the pool play portion of the tournament. We ended up seated third and we will play Hungary at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow.

After the game, we walked to a pizza place nearby and had dinner. It was delicious and a nice change from the hotel food. Then we walked back and jumped in the pool to cool off and relax our muscles, so we're ready to go in the morning!


Monday, July 13
Maddy O'Donnell, Jr., OPP/MB, Boise State (BroncoSports.com)
Today we woke up and had breakfast and then headed for the gym. We played Hungary at 11:30 a.m. and won all three sets. After the game we went to a local market and got sandwiches and snacks.

We relaxed in between games and then went back to the gym for our 7 p.m. match against an Italian team (Falconara). We beat them in three as well. We have been playing great. After the evening match, we headed back to the hotel for dinner and a night swim in the ocean at sunset. It was beautiful!

Rachel Gale, So., OH, Utah State (UtahStateAggies.com)
The tournament has started! Last night we had opening ceremonies and they introduced each team which was pretty cool.

Today we had our first matches of pool play and won both of them. We played against Hungary and another Italian team. After our games we got to go down to the beach and swim around and relax a little which was nice!

Tomorrow is another day of pool play and Wednesday will start tournament play.


Saturday, July 11
Maddy O'Donnell, Jr., OPP/MB, Boise State (BroncoSports.com)
Today we woke up early, had breakfast at the hotel and then took a day trip to Bled, Slovenia which was about a two-hour drive. Bled is a cute little lake town with lots of fun restaurants, shops and lake activities. We took a nice walk around part of the lake and rented row boats for an hour and rowed around the lake and saw a beautiful old church and castle.

At 7 p.m., we played the Italian National Team to conclude our scrimmages in Maribor. They were an older, more experienced team but we played really well and scored at least 20 points in three of the four sets we played. Italy is the No. 1 ranked team in the European Global Challenge, so we are hoping to improve a few things and beat them in the finals on Thursday.

After the game, we had dinner at the hotel and hung out as a team in our rooms. We are all packed up and ready to leave Maribor tomorrow morning. All of the American teams will be on one big bus tomorrow on our road trip to Pula, Croatia. The drive will be about five or six hours depending on traffic. Tomorrow night we will participate in opening ceremonies along with all the other teams competing.

Adrianna Culbert, Sr., OPP/OH, Colorado State (CSURams.com)
Since we've been in Slovenia we have played three matches, first against the Israel National Team, and then against the Slovenia Junior National Team and tonight we played the Italian National Team. Tonight’s opponent was the best team we’ve played; they beat the U.S. Junior National Team the other night. Throughout our time, we have become so much more comfortable playing with each other, and tonight against the Italians we had our best match yet, losing toward the end. It was really great volleyball.

Every day we’ve done something different. The first day here, we drove to Graz, Austria, and were able to walk around town, which was so cool! And we got our first European gelato… IT WAS HEAVEN! The next day, we went on the alpine slide and ate lunch at the top. We rode a sled down, and it was so much fun!!! We got to go so fast, it was terrifying!

Then today, our last day in Slovenia, we went to this beautiful lake that was about two hours away. The water was so clear and mountains surrounded it. There was this island that was in the middle of the lake with a church on it. We rented a paddle boat and rowed to it, which was an interesting task because there were four of us and only one set of paddles. We finally got the hang of it after sitting in the middle of the lake for about 20 minutes!

Tomorrow we head to Croatia, where we will be for the next five days for more playing and sightseeing! :)

Rachel Gale, So., OH, Utah State (UtahStateAggies.com)
Today was the last day we will spend here in Slovenia. We got to go to Lake Bled. It was about a two-hour drive from our hotel and it was amazingly beautiful! The water was so clear and everything looked like a painting!

We spent about three hours there and then came back to play our game against the Italian team. We stayed tied in score until the end of each set but they were just a little more consistent then we were. Overall it was a really good match! We continue to get better each day and we are definitely ready for the tournament on Monday.

I won't have very good wifi in Pula but I'll try and keep you updated as much as I can!


Friday, July 10
Official MW bloggers: Julia Warren, Jr., OH & Devanne Sours, Jr., OPP/OH, New Mexico
Hello everyone!

We have had such an amazing and eventful 4 days in Maribor, Slovenia. After we all had long travels from America, we finally ended up in the cute town of Maribor. We had a practice to fix the jet lag. We served and pass and hit just to get the feel of the team.

The next morning we had a great practice. We started putting our system into place and really started to get to know each other. Then we had a nice car ride to Graz, Austria. We got to walk around the amazing town, taking in our surroundings. We ate some great sausage and gelato.

We then had a game against the Israel National Team. We played a hard fought match against a really good team. We learned a lot and moved on from that game.

On day 4 we had a really good practice. We worked on rotations and really started to mesh as a team. It started feeling like we had been playing together for a while.

We had a really fun outing. We were able to go on the alpine slide in Maribor. We took the lift up the mountain are lunch and then took a really scary ride down. :) Everyone had so much fun! It was a great experience.

Today we played a match against the Slovenian Junior National team. They are a very well-coached team that worked hard. We built a better system and meshed better together. After this game we are very excited for what is to come.

Can't wait to update you all more.

Rachel Gale, So., OH, Utah State (UtahStateAggies.com)
Today was awesome! The best day we've had so far!

We started with another early morning practice. After practice, we got to ride up the ski lift at the resort next door and ride down the mountain on an alpine slide a few times. It was a ton of fun!

We also played a Slovenian team this afternoon and we won! We improved a ton from yesterday. We got to end the day with gelato from a little shop down the street. (See my failed attempt of a duck face selfie with the gelato just for USU head coach Grayson DuBose!)

Kaitlyn Oliver, So., MB, Boise State (BroncoSports.com)
Day two in Europe was a success. We started the day with breakfast at 7 a.m. and another early practice to follow. We were able to work on specific things that needed improvement from the scrimmage the previous day.

After practice we quickly showered and headed to the mountain outside of our hotel. We all took a ski lift to the top of the mountain where we had lunch waiting for us, and a gorgeous view of Maribor to go along with it. After lunch, our ride down the steep mountain side was by an alpine sled through the thick green forest. We all got strapped onto the plastic sleds, which were connected to a metal railing that zig zagged down the mountain side. One at a time we went down, watching each other whip around the corners and scream down every drop. It was such a thrill and everyone had so much fun, that we decided to do it again! It was just as fun the second time!

After that we headed back to the hotel and got ready for our scrimmage against the Slovenian youth national team. We won the match 3-0 but played the full five-sets for extra practice, we won every game. Afterwards, we had dinner at the hotel and then ended the day with some delicious European gelato!

Tyanna Roy, Sr., OH, San José State (SJSUSpartans.com)
We went on a HUGE ski lift with an awesome view! Then we went down the best slide EVER! I took a video which is pretty funny. The slide goes so fast zig-zagging across the whole mountain.

End of Slovenia Friendly Games:
We played Israel National Team, Italian Junior National Team, and a Slovenian U17 team. The game is played a lot different here. The sets are much higher, so we had to adjust our timing on the block even more. One thing that we are not used to is playing older girls. Some of the girls on the national teams were 30 years old! They have so much experience and knowledge about the game. I have so much respect for them as players and I cannot wait to play them again in Croatia. They were such great competition to get us ready for Croatia because we have only been practicing together for two days. I am so excited to see how we progress and adjust to the teams we play.

More to come as we play more games in the European Global Challenge Tournament!


Thursday, July 9
Maddy O'Donnell, Jr., OPP/MB, Boise State (BroncoSports.com)
The set up for the first segment of our trip is pretty neat. We are staying at the Dras Cenger in Maribor, Slovenia, which is a hotel/fitness center. We have been practicing in the morning and today we had our first scrimmage against the Israel National Team.

We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then headed to the courts and practiced for two hours. Kaitlyn (Oliver) and I are two of four middles on our team. Coaches Jeff (Nelson) and Marc (Swindle) had me playing some right side in practice as well.

Right after our morning training session, we showered up and hopped into two vans with our tour guides and drove to Graz, Austria, which was about 45 minutes away. We were given lunch money and about three hours to wander around, shop, eat and enjoy the city. It was very historic-looking with beautiful old buildings and lots of locals. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant where our waitress didn’t speak any English so we had to just wing it and go with the flow.

Then we drove back to Maribor and had a short amount of down time until our match at 6 p.m. The Israel National Team was very experienced (most of them in their late 20s). They were big blockers and aggressive attackers. They went up banging balls and passed really well. We lost but learned a lot about what we need to fix for our matches to come.

We have practice tomorrow morning (July 10) and a match against the Slovenian National Team in the evening. We are having a blast and our team is really cool :)

Rachel Gale, So., OH, Utah State (UtahStateAggies.com)
We started off our second day with an early morning practice. After practice we got in the vans and took a 45-minute drive to Austria.

We got to walk around Gras and shop for a few hours. This evening we had our first scrimmage against Israel. We had moments of playing really well and moments when you could definitely tell we had never played together before, but it was fun to see the potential we have as a team!

I think once we get more used to each other and get some nerves out we will have a lot of success!


Wednesday, July 8
Rachel Gale, So., OH, Utah State (UtahStateAggies.com)
Well the first day is almost over and we definitely didn't waste any time! We arrived at our hotel in Maribor, Slovenia at around 2, ate some lunch and had practice from 4-6. We got to end the night watching one of the U.S. Women's national teams play against the junior national team from Israel. It's been awesome so far but the time change is definitely hard!

Cassidy Denny, Jr., L/DS, Colorado State (CSURams.com)
After traveling a total of 26 hours, with one missed connection and a three-and-a-half-hour layover, we finally made it to Vienna!!

It was raining, but no one seemed to mind except us, "the foreigners!” Stop lights go from green to blinking green to yellow to red, which I thought was kind of cool, and the people change lanes whether or not they have room to. Kind of like California drivers, except worse. The rules of the road are clearly only suggestions here!!

Because we missed our connecting flight, we toured Vienna this afternoon with another volleyball team, and then headed up to Maribor later in the day. Vienna is beautiful! Rainy and wet, but beautiful.

We officially made it to Maribor, and after a quick bite to eat hopped right into bed. What an eventful first day off of U.S. soil for the both of us!! With practice bright and early, and after 34 hours straight of being awake, we are officially saying goodnight from Slovenia! :)

Tyanna Roy, Sr., OH, San José State (SJSUSpartans.com)
The airlines lost mine and one of my teammates bags! Hopefully they find them soon! Good thing I packed the main things I needed in my carry on bag. No worries because I'M IN EUROPE!

Everything is so different here. Austria started out dry, but, when we crossed into Slovenia, it was very green and beautiful. The houses are all so cute with red roofs and so spread apart. I want to go to sleep on this long ride, but because the scenery is so beautiful, I don't want to miss anything.

One fun fact: We passed Arnold Schwarzenegger's huge house!

The balls used for international volleyball are much different than what I am used to. I really feel like I needed to push the ball hard to target. Usually, my angles can do a lot of the work, but I really have to work on getting my body on the ball and keeping my head down. As time goes on, I am sure I'll get the hang of it.

Our hotel is awesome with a full gym inside! We practice and play in our hotel, something I have never seen before. There are two full courts and a small indoor soccer field. One thing that I definitely have to get used to is the small twin beds we have to sleep on. Apparently in Europe, hotels do not have Full or Queen beds. I'm sure some of these extremely tall volleyball player's feet are hanging off the edge. I can't wait for this week of volleyball overseas.


2015 Mountain West Global Challenge All-Star Volleyball Schedule
Date(s) Opponent Time (MT/PT) Site
July 8 Training 8 a.m./7 a.m. Maribor, Slovenia
July 9 Training 12:30 a.m./11:30 p.m. (7/8) Maribor, Slovenia
Israel Senior National Team 9:30 a.m./8:30 a.m. Dras, Austria
July 10 Training 3 a.m./2 a.m. Dras, Austria
Slovenia Youth National Team 8 a.m./7 a.m. Dras, Austria
July 11 Italy Junior National Team 10:30 a.m./9:30 a.m. Bled, Slovenia
July 12 2015 Global Challenge Europe Opening Ceremony 1 p.m./Noon Pula, Croatia
July 13 GC - Hungary Junior B National Team
Court 2
3:30 a.m. / 2:30 a.m. Pula, Croatia
GC - Falconara Juniors (Italy)
Uljanik (no livestream)
11 a.m. / 10 a.m. Pula, Croatia
July 14 GC - Israel National Team
Court 2
3:30 a.m. / 2:30 a.m. Pula, Croatia
GC - Italy Junior National Team
Court 2
11 a.m. / 10 a.m. Pula, Croatia
July 15 GC - Hungary B Junior Natl. Team
3:30 a.m. / 2:30 a.m. Pula, Croatia
GC - Nova KBM
Court 2
11 a.m. / 10 a.m. Pula, Croatia
July 16 GC - USA Junior National Team
Semifinal - Court 2
12:30 a.m. / 11:30 p.m. (7/15) Pula, Croatia
GC - BIP Midwest
Third Place - Court 2
5 a.m. / 4 a.m. Pula, Croatia


2015 Mountain West Global Challenge All-Star Volleyball Team
No. Name '15 Cl. Pos. Institution
1 Julia Warren Jr. OH New Mexico
2 Bree Hammel Jr. MB UNLV
3 Alexis Patterson Fr. S UNLV
4 Kaitlyn Oliver So. MB Boise State
5 Maddy O'Donnell Jr. OPP/MB Boise State
6 Adrianna Culbert Sr. OPP/OH Colorado State
7 Lyndsey Anderson Jr. S Nevada
8 Devanne Sours Jr. OH/OPP New Mexico
9 Tyanna Roy Sr. OH San José State
10 Rachel Gale So. OH Utah State
11 Cassidy Denny Jr. L/DS Colorado State
12 Emma Fuzie So. MB San Diego State
Head Coach: Jeff Nelson New Mexico
Assistant Coach: Marc Swindle Air Force